why women get breast cancer
Why women get breast cancer in large numbers?

Authors: Zonish Qaiser, Dr. Haseeb Anwar, Dr. Humaira Muzaffar, Fatima Aslam, Syeda Wajeeha Fatima Bukhari, Sehar Jabeen, Sonia Liaqat from Department of Physiology, Government College University Faisalabad

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women world and the second-most-common cause of death from cancer. There are different chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer for different people. Changes in diet and exercise, preventive medications, or even surgery in high-risk cases reduce the chances of cancer. There is not only one risk factor that may cause breast, that’s why it is difficult to say what actually causes breast cancer and why women get breast cancer in large numbers. There are many risk factors that may cause breast cancer. Some of them are discussed below


The predominant female hormone estrogen, mainly produced by the ovaries, plays a key role in breast cancer development and protection. The amount of estrogen released throughout the life and number of children she has also a risk factor. During puberty, estrogen causes breast development and during pregnancy helps the breasts develop for breastfeeding. Increased estrogen for prolong period changes DNA of breast cell and causes damaged cells to multiply, which starts the cancer. Factors that increase lifetime estrogen exposure and, with that, breast cancer risk, include having no or few children and starting your family at an older age.

Dairy, meat and vegetables

Modern diet is also a factor that causes breast cancer. Preservatives and pesticides are major contributors, but it is not confirmed.
Dairy products have no risk to cause cancer, but meat cause little or no effect.25% of population is at risk who eats high level of red meat or processed meat. This is because the processed food has small amount of cancer causing toxin. There is some evidence seen that eating more fish causes decrease in risk of breast cancer. This is because omega-3 protects has protective effects. Vegetables intake also lowers the risk, but its working mechanism is not known.

Lifestyle, obesity and stress

Alcohol intake increases the lifetime risk of breast cancer. Active smoking also increases the risk, especially in younger women, but passive smoking not. Hormone insulin in obese women has higher risk of developing breast cancer. Women developing diabetes in later life have increased risk of cancer due to high level of insulin. High-stress levels are also the cause of cancer. Moreover, sleep patterns also have effect on breast cancer, but it is not confirmed.

Genetic factors

In women, fault in particular genes i.e. BRCA 1 and 2 genes which repairs damaged DNA have high-risk of breast cancer (80%) and ovarian cancer (40%). Family history is also one of the major risk factor of developing cancer. Those women whose first degree relatives (mother, sister or daughter) have breast cancer are at higher risk to develop the cancer.


Breast cancer is most common in women as compare to men, less than 1%. The cancer is most common in older adult’s males having hormonal imbalance, having family history and exposure to radiation. The risk also increases in male with absence of BRCA 2 gene.


After gender, age is the most common risk of breast cancer. The rate of developing a breast cancer is high with increase in age, and its risk is on peak level at the age of menopause. It is studied that women at age of 50 years indicates breast cancer. In younger women, breast tumors are larger in size, advanced stages, positive lymph nodes and weak survival.

Physical activity

In physically active postmenopausal women, the risk of developing breast cancer is reduced. It is also studied that the after being diagnosed of breast cancer, the rate of mortality decreases if a person is physically active. The people who walk for 3-5 hours daily at average speed, benefits of exercise are seen.

Using HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)

Breast cancer risk is higher in women using HRT currently or in the past. Since 2002 when research linked HRT and risk, the number of women taking HRT has dropped dramatically.